- Associated Press - Thursday, August 27, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Three major health insurers have urged a Minnesota court to deny a rival’s efforts to force the state to allow it to retain its contracts to cover thousands of low-income residents, arguing that supporting that rival’s request would be unfair and hurt their businesses.

UCare sued state officials in Ramsey County court last week in an attempt to maintain a foothold in Minnesota’s public health care programs. Minnesota officials announced last month a new statewide competitive bidding system for those contracts would save the state $450 million, but the Minneapolis company alleged the Department of Human Services improperly cut them out in that process.

The Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1KmVlAC ) reported Blue Plus, HealthPartners and Medica submitted court filings in the case Wednesday in which they urged the court to deny UCare’s request.

UCare contends that leaving it out would negatively affect its nearly 370,000 enrollees by forcing them to select new plans. However, the other companies argue that it would be wrong to reverse that shift.

“Given the size of the membership shift, Medica has begun preparations for the transition of members to and from Medica and other health plans, and it has begun to make necessary staffing changes to effectively administer this transition,” the company said in its court filing. “Any changes or disruption to the administration of these programs … will further confuse the community and enrollees about the changes ahead.”

Blue Plus, part of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota that covers low-income residents, said allowing UCare back into the contracting process would be “fundamentally unfair.”

A Ramsey County judge granted the three insurers’ requests to intervene this week. Officials from UCare and the state are due in court Friday for a first hearing in the case.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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